Abstract

Enamel and dentin are the primary components of human teeth. Both of them have a strong polarization effect. We designed a polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PSOCT) system to study the spatially resolved scattering and polarization phenomena of teeth. The system is constructed in free space to avoid the complexity of polarization control in fiber-based PSOCT. The structural features of enamel were evaluated in five human teeth that had no visible evidence of caries. The teeth were subsequently sectioned in mesial distal orientation and coronal orientation. Then the structural aspects of dentin were evaluated. OCT images were made of the mantel dentin near the dentin–enamel junction. Five teeth with interproximal and occlusal caries were also studied. With two channel and phase-retardation images, PSOCT provided better functional contrast and more detailed structural information than conventional OCT. For a better description of the measured PSOCT data, we classify these features by two types, i.e., the local textural features and the global structural features. This study indicates that PSOCT has the potential to be a powerful tool for research of dental formation and caries diagnosis.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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